You’re going to get who you’ve already got — that’s what Samson Hartland said of his run for council, which he announced Aug. 30.
“There are no surprises with me,” Hartland told the News.
“I think anybody who’s gotten to know me over the years knows that I’m the type of guy that wears my heart on my sleeve.”
Hartland, executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, has served two terms on council — from 2000 to 2003 and from 2015 to present.
He has typically been concerned with fiscal management. In 2018, he opposed the city’s $77-million operating budget, which included hikes in property taxes and city fees. He was also opposed to the increases in councillors’ salaries that passed this year.
Hartland said his concerns for the future are similar to what they’ve always been. He said he wants to be able to see seniors stay in their homes and young people buy new ones.
In recent months, he’s heard from residents that they’re worried about affordability and continued growth of the city, and how to balance those two things.
Certainly part of the higher cost of living here is inherent in living in a remote location, said Hartland, but he sees mitigation of that cost as part of the role of municipal government.
“Every councillor is aligned on the fact that there’s only so much to go around and the expectation level does continue to grow. At the same time resources don’t grow at the same pace.”
Hartland said the city relieves that pressure by way of its approach to land development, and how it calculates taxation on residents and businesses.
Hartland also identified the official community plan (OCP) as a great tool for sustainable city planning, though he was critical of the number of amendments that have been proposed or made to the plan since it was drafted.
“People know the amount of input that has been put there. To see it struck away by a vote in a few weeks span is disturbing to folks.”
In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, Hartland said, there were so many charettes held around the OCP that charette almost became a bad word in Whitehorse. He said the city has since relied heavily on the document, but he sees a trend toward making amendments without due consideration (in August, Hartland raised concerns about a proposed amendment to increase building heights for a waterfront property above what’s outlined in the OCP).
He said council needs to stop and take stock of what the OCP means to the city and its continued growth. It’s not an easy task, he said, especially when people tend to look at projects in silos — this is what’s happening in this neighbourhood versus that neighbourhood, as opposed to the city as a whole — but he would like to see council take a long-range view that looks 50 years into the future.
The Whitehorse municipal election takes place Oct. 18.
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